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The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is spending nearly £8bn on research and development (R&D) in the 2018/19 financial year, increasing the budget to £8.6bn the following year.
According to a BEIS document on R&D allocation, most of the funding is going to a new non-departmental public body called UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which was set up on 1 April 2018.
The body is a culmination of the research councils joining forces with the research and knowledge exchange functions of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, and is responsible for driving R&D in the UK.
UKRI has been allocated a £6.81bn R&D budget for 2018/19, increasing marginally to £6.99bn in 2019/20.
The funding comes from a number of sources, including the national productivity and investment fund (NPIF), which was announced by chancellor Philip Hammond in the 2016 autumn statement, the government’s research and innovation budget and the science infrastructure capital budget.
UKRI also manages the delivery of the industrial strategy challenge fund (ISCF).
The rest of the BEIS R&D funding – comprising of £1.09bn, with £70m yet to be allocated – is going to the UK Space Agency, national academies, public sector research establishments and other BEIS programmes, according to the document.
The BEIS budget, which is the main bulk of Whitehall’s R&D spend, aims to help reach the government’s target of spending 2.4% of GDP on R&D by 2027. In 2016, prime minister Theresa May promised to invest an extra £2bn a year by the end of this parliament “to help put post-Brexit Britain at the cutting edge of science and tech”.
UKRI chief finance officer and deputy CEO, Ian Kenyon, said the new body is “committed to providing the best environment for research and innovation to flourish, and ensuring that the UK’s world-leading knowledge economy is harnessed to address the significant societal and industrial challenges we face domestically and globally”.
“The government has recognised these challenges, and by committing significant additional funding to research and innovation it is providing us with the resources we need to get on with the job at hand,” he said.
So far, the government has allocated £1.7bn to the first two waves of the ISCF, including investing in s developing artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to be used in dangerous environments and the development of new battery technologies.
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